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Spencer pushing the front end



Lawson sliding the rear end



From Cycle magazine, May 1989, by Cameron:


Spencer's turn entries were fast and scary, deleting the insurance clauses in his contract with traction. He often looked ragged, his machine sliding at both ends, but he didn't fall. Simultanous with reaching full lean, he had the power on again. His lines were often unusual.


Spencer's style included both old and new elements. He braked as had the masters of the 50s - all while upright. Only after releasing the brakes did he flick the machine into the turn - at a scary speed you'd expect to wash out the front end instantly. As the front end was loading up with the cornering force, he opened the throttle to the point that stopped the process at peak traction. If everything was perfectly judged, the macine went around the turn under control, at a speed experienced onlookers found truly unbelievable.


When Spencer applied his style on the 1982 Honda NS500, it gave the impression that the bike had exceptional acceleration, or at least a broad powerband. In fact, that machine began its career with a pipsqueak powerband of 9800 to 11000 rpm, and had only 108 hp to the opposition's 130 plus.Because Spencer not only entered the turns faster, but also had the throttle opened instantly, he made maximum use of what thrust the machine did have.


Mamola was disbelieving after watching Spencer recover from a front-end go-away at super-fast Silverstone. Spencer had simply fed in enough power to bring the front tyre back to optimum loading. This enabled Freddie to ride with the front end constantly at risk.


Lawson: I'm not sure why it works, but the minute you stop just rolling in to the apex, and crack the throttle - even a just a little - your lap times come down dramatically.



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Nice post Eirik.

Take a look at the photos. The black marks from both riders tires extend past the frame in which the picture was taken.


Now for your question Hotfoot. It could be that I do not have an all time favorite rider, but...


Earlier this year while eating sushi at a local restaurant there was a nice and polite young British couple seated next to me. She requested some other type of sauce to dip her sushi in. The waiter grumbled a bit and brought her what she asked for. We were for the most part minding our own business but at some point the conversation ended up on racing motorcycles, My bike had front door parking and my gear was with me at the table.


My question: " Are you Mr. John Surtees and is this your lovely wife?"

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Any regrets?


I once asked Kevin Schwantz this question and while I can't quote an answer he gave for the next 20+ minutes he did name a few of his passes and the need to look over his shoulder ending in crashes. He also made mention of a couple times riding a bike he knew wasn't good enough for what he was doing but did it anyways.

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Schwantz did have some spectacular rides.


I'd have to think a bit about what I'd ask Kenny Sr.


Maybe, "What is the single most critical skill in riding?" That might require a bit of follow up, but I'd be interested in his answer.

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OK, question for all: if you could ask your favorite all time riding hero ONE question, what would it be?


Like ScrmnDuc I don't have one all time favorite rider, however I would love to ask Valentino Rossi how much of his success he would attribute to natural ability and how much to hard work, training, study, etc. I think the answer might be insightful if you could get him to be honest and detailed in his answer. Which in and of itself would be decidedly un-Rossi like :)


That said, what I really want to know is not something that could be really learned in a Q&A, and that is just what does it feel like to be that good. Do the greats really enjoy it? Or is the drive to greatness mutually exclusive to the ability to really appreciate the accomplishments? I realize that is something I will never know and it is a question I wonder about when I watch the greats do things mere mortals can only dream about.

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The machine is important, but you can usually see one team mate out-performing the other more or less consistently with test riders being a noth or two below that of the "real" riders. So you need a full package of rider and machine in order to win. And sometimes, you have freaks that can win on arguably a lesser bike, like Spencer in 1982/83 and Stoner from 2007 on with the Ducati. Many have also claimed that Rainey had a lousy bike that really shouldn't be good enough to take titles.

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